With a big festive feast to prepare, it’s easy to leave the wine until the last minute. Here Askham Hall's 'Maître de Maison' Front of House Manager Nico Chièze, offers his recommendations for some palate pleasers to accompany the perfect Christmas dinner.

Originally from the Loire Valley in France, Nico joined Askham Hall in 2014, following 14 years at Sharrow

Bay on Ullswater.

He was also previously sommelier at the famous Waterside Inn at Bray on-Thames (Michelin 3*) owned by Michel Roux Senior and spent three years as a sommelier at the Château Cordeillan-Bages (Michelin 2*) in Bordeaux.

Nico says: “There is a French expression: “A Noël on met les petits plats dans les grands!” Simply put, it means taking things to the next level of satisfaction.

"For me, that’s what the food and drink experience is all about; friends and family coming together to enjoy a special moment in the year.

"The best glasses and crockery come out of the cupboard and there is the time and space to savour some special wines alongside the usual festive fayre.

"Nothing marks a celebration like Champagne. It goes with virtually any type of food, so can be served with a variety of canapés to get the festivities under way.

"Family-owned Champagne Joseph-Perrier is my choice for this year or if you prefer to be patriotic consider a delicious English sparkling wine.

"For Christmas dinner itself, my recommendation is to start with something light, fresh and mineral to wake up the palette for the rest of the meal.

"A wine from my own region of France, such as Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre or Chablis works well. Alternatives to French wine would be a “top cuvée” Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Albariño from Spain – perfect for seafood starters like crab, salmon or scallops.

"For a traditional main course of turkey or goose, there is nothing better than a good and delicate Pinot Noir as you can be sure it won’t overpower the taste of the meat because of his finesse.

"This is the prestige part of the dinner, but you shouldn’t feel constrained by any specific ‘rules’. What is important is that you pick the finest version of a wine you really enjoy to match the importance of the occasion.

"Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) is again an excellent choice for your cheese course, particularly to accompany goats cheese or a very classic to cheese is a vintage Port.

"Then, Christmas pudding which, for me, isn’t a great fit with more classic dessert wines. For something different, why not try a superb Spanish Pedro Ximénez, which is an intensely sweet version of sherry?

"To round off the big event, a good-quality liquor or brandy is a great accompaniment for your after-dinner coffee break. Or for a different twist, you could even go for some local damson gin.

"Again, the key point is to indulge your senses and make the most of this special festive celebration. After all, you have been looking forward to this meal all year.

"Joyeux Noël et Bonne Dégustation!"

Nico’s top tips:

• Remember there are no set ‘rules’. Some flavours and textures do sit more naturally together, but the most important thing is to take your time and savour the experience with family and friends.

• Don’t forget to stand your old red wine for at least 48 hours before you drink it, to ensure all the sediment drops to the bottom. Also decant it beforehand to separate wine from sediment and give it air and oxygen.

• Number one rule - if you are a gentleman always serve ladies first, principally your mother-in-law!